(PresidentialHill.com)- A state judge has ruled that former President Donald Trump must testify as part of a civil probe being conducted by the attorney general of New York into his business practices.
However, on Monday, the former president officially appealed that ruling, which would force him to answer questions under oath from Attorney General Letitia James and other prosecutors from her office.
James and her office were expecting Trump to appeal the ruling, which was handed down by Manhattan state court Justice Arthur Engoron on February 17.
In explaining the ruling, Engoron wrote James held a “clear right” to ask Trump questions as part of her larger civil probe into his business, the Trump Organization. He said that’s because James’ office found “copious evidence of possible financial fraud” as part of their probe.
Now that Trump is appealing the ruling, though, James will have to wait on proceeding to the next step in the potential case against the former president, his business and some of his children. James is also seeking testimony from Trump’s oldest two children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
All of the Trumps involved in the probe have said that requiring them to testify would violate their rights under the U.S. Constitution. They say the words they speak under oath could then be used against them in a separate but related criminal investigation that’s being led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Last May, James joined forces with the Manhattan DA to help with their criminal probe, which is now being led by DA Alvin Bragg, who took over the position at the start of the year.
Trump has long accused James and the Manhattan DA’s office of targeting him based on politics alone. Bragg and James are both Democrats, and James actually campaigned for her position by saying she would take down Trump one way or the other.
In his appeal, Trump is asking an appeals court in New York to consider the issue of his constitutional rights being violated, as well as the political nature of their probes. Trump is also asking the court to consider whether his protections from a grand jury would be “easily avoided, indeed, eviscerated” by the probe James is conducting.
James’ office has responded to Trump’s appeal, but only by repeating a statement it sent last week when it learned the Trumps planned to appeal the ruling. That statement read:
“While they have the right to seek a delay, they cannot deter us from following the facts and the law wherever they may lead. No one is above the law.”
The ruling handed down by Engoron would have forced the three Trumps to testify under oath within three weeks. When that decision was released, Trump issued a statement saying it was “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history — and remember, I can’t get a fair hearing in New York because of the hatred of me by judges and the judiciary. It’s not possible!”